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The Top 100 Cubs Of All Time - #84 Hank Borowy

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Profile written by BCB reader rlpete

Hank Borowy appears on the Cubs' Top 100 List thanks to just 14 starts in a half season in 1945. Without Borowy, it is unlikely that the Cubs' last World Series appearance in 1945 would have occurred. He's also the answer to a bit of Cubs' trivia that someday will hopefully change. More on the trivia later.

Henry Ludwig (Hank) Borowy was born in Bloomfield, New Jersey on May 12, 1916, and attended Fordham University, where he became a standout pitcher (going 33-1 in his collegiate career); he was named to Fordham's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1972. He made his major league debut in 1942 with the New York Yankees. He became a mainstay in the Yankees' rotation during the war years, compiling a 46-25 record from 1942 through 1944. He was named an All-Star in 1944. 1945 was looking like another solid season for Borowy and by July, his record stood at 10-5. However, Yankees' president Lee McPhail (yes, Andy's grandfather) placed Borowy on waivers. The exact reason for waiving him is still unclear. Reasons include a possible sore arm, MacPhail wanting the waiver money, the return of 40-year old Red Ruffing from war service and disappointment in Borowy's 5-8 mark in the 2nd half of 1944 (although he had snapped back and made the AL All-Star team in 1945). In any case, after everyone else passed, expecting the Yankees to pull him back, the 1st place Cubs claimed him. On July 27th, 1945, Hank Borowy became Cubs property for $97,000.

Borowy made his Cubs debut on July 29th with a 3-2 win over Cincinnati. For the remainder of the season, Borowy was the Cubs' best pitcher, posting an 11-2 record with a 2.13 ERA. For the Cubs, he made 14 starts and one relief appearance. The Cubs were 13-2 in those games. In this sense, his acquisition was much like the Cubs' acquisition of Rick Sutcliffe in 1984; without Sutcliffe, who went 16-1 (and the Cubs went 18-2 in his 20 starts), the Cubs would not have won the 1984 NL East. For the 1945 season, Borowy was a 20 game winner with a combined mark of 21-7 and a 2.65 ERA, and he is one of only two pitchers in major league history to win at least ten games for two different teams in the same season (the other -- Bartolo Colon, for the Indians and Expos in 2002). The Cubs won the NL with a 98-56 record and finished 3 games ahead of the Cardinals.

In the World Series, Borowy was called on to start the opener against the Tigers. The Cubs pounded Tigers starter Hal Newhouser and Borowy was sharp, pitching a complete game shutout, as the Cubs won the opener 8-0. After the Tigers won 2 of the next 3 games to even the series, Borowy was again the starter for critical Game 5. Sharp for 5 innings, he was knocked out in the 6th inning having given up 5 runs in 5 innings. The Tigers held on and won the game 8-4 as the Cubs fell behind in the series 3 games to 2. Game 6 was a close extra-inning game. Borowy was called on in the 9th inning with the game tied at 7. He pitched 4 scoreless innings and when the Cubs scored a run to win the game and tie the series, he also picked up the win. Cubs' manager Charlie Grimm once again called on him in Game 7 as the starting pitcher. It was a fateful decision, and in retrospect ridiculous, coming back to a pitcher who had thrown five innings (in game five) and four (in game six) on one day's rest. Predictably, after 3 appearances he didn't have anything left. The Tigers got 3 straight hits to start the game and Borowy was removed. The Tigers scored 5 in the 1st inning and coasted to the championship with a 9-3 win. For the series, Borowy was 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA in 18 innings.

Borowy returned in 1946 and posted a 12-10 mark with a 3.76 ERA but arm problems started taking their toll. In 1947 and 1948, he served as a swing man for the Cubs posting records of 8-12 and 5-10. After the 1948 season, Hank Borowy was traded with Eddie Waitkus to the Philadelphia Phillies for Monk Dubiel and Dutch Leonard. Borowy posted a 12-12 record with the Phillies in 1949 in his last successful season. He retired in 1951 after short stints with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers. With the Cubs, Borowy finished with a 36-34 record and a 3.85 ERA. For his career, he was 108-82 with a 3.50 ERA.

After retirement Borowy returned to his native New Jersey and got into real estate; he owned the self-named Hank Borowy Realty Co. in his hometown of Bloomfield, New Jersey for many years. Borowy died on August 23, 2004 at the age of 88.

As for the trivia... Who is the last Cub pitcher to win and lose a World Series game? Of course, the answer to both is Hank Borowy.

Hank Borowy's career stats at baseball-reference.com